My Two Witnesses, Part 2

Revelation 11:1-14

Last week, identified numerous things from OT John alludes to in ch. 11: Ezekiel’s temple (ch. 40ff), Daniel’s seventy weeks (ch. 9), Zechariah’s olive trees (ch. 4), beastly kingdoms of Daniel 7 and 8, for example. Showed from Daniel 9:24ff, how Herod’s temple & city of Jerusalem destroyed bringing end to sacrifice in middle of the 70th week of years. Leaves 1/2 week, or as John describes here 42 months / 1260 days from destruction of Jerusalem to consummation (Second Coming).

Clearly God has a dwelling place… in midst of hostile surroundings. Clear distinction between his dwelling in hearts of his people, those outside who tread Christ’s kingdom underfoot. This active and passive resistance to God’s truth and rejection of it is way of it for rest of this age. Take comfort – God’s temple endures… in spite of all efforts to crush it. Stakes are high – territory being fought over is eternal souls of men women boys girls.

John’s attention drawn first to the temple of God, then two witnesses – put the two together… the witnessing church. The setting: an environment where there is much hostility to the witnesses and their message. Do not be afraid, though, God has it under control!

B. the witnesses v.3-13

their work (3)

commissioned, empowered to prophesy – to declare God’s truth with power and authority, not their own but granted by God

most powerful force ever displayed – that of God’s word: “God said… and there was”; “upholds all things by his powerful word”

word has been entrusted to witnesses, sword of the Spirit – the one weapon people of God authorized to use in battle

remember: Deut. 19:15“One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established.”

twelve sent out (Mark 6:7), so were seventy (Luke 10:1) two by two; Paul and Barnabas, Paul and Silas; appoint elders; biblical pattern – two or more, not Lone Rangers

notice also duration (it’s significant) – 1260 days = 42 months (30 days each) = 3-1/2 years; iow, from time of John until Second Coming

their identity (4)

clear reference to Zech. 4:11-14, two olive trees full of oil – often symbol of Holy Spirit, who equips and empowers witnesses

oil also source of energy for light from lampstands – in view here the local church and its people, together the light of the world

remember what Jesus said about light: Matt. 5:14-16“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

will come back to this but… question not if are witnesses; is what kind of witnesses – dim lights, flickering lights, hidden lights, steady bright lights

have never-failing more than adequate supply of oil for our lamp – our task to use it to its best advantage as God directs

their protection (5-6)

matters not who opposes them, who tries to overcome them – two witnesses, the church, is invincible until her task is complete

again, remember what Jesus declared: not even powers of hell can prevent church from accomplishing her God-given mission

may appear that way to us, individuals w/i church may not achieve particular goals and may give their lives yet Christ and kingdom prevail over all his enemies

need to back up to beginning ch. 8 – prayers of God’s people ascend before his throne, he hears and responds with all sorts of calamities

just like miracles in days of prophets and apostles – prayed to God, God exercised power through them in response to prayer and need

the conflict (7)

universal conflict has local skirmishes – Sodom, Eqypt, Jerusalem – city known for its sexual immorality; country/culture known for its gross idolatry and worship of creation rather than Creator; city who welcomed a hero, then turned on him days later

those who are in love with their sin don’t give it up easily, resent being reminded of it; especially true when comes from the top

can look around world, across sweep of history, see numerous empires/dynasties/governments committed to pursuit of evil

Kim dynasty in N. Korea, repression of the church; Nero, lighting gardens with Christians as human torches; Spanish Inquisition

for a time, God permits them to appear as if they have defeated Christ’s church – in part to build faith of believers

nations of the West not far behind – trend here at present is accelerating toward fewer restraints on evil, more tolerance of openly sinful behavior

the result (8-10)

evildoers celebrate: whether outwardly or not, rejoice because continual reminder of sin-darkened hearts/minds no longer in their face

show utmost disrespect for those who truly deserve most respect – those who stand for truth of Gospel; advertise and glamorize defeat of the Church

much stronger reaction, greater enthusiasm than probably expect – why such fervor? Witnesses to God’s truth are torment to evildoers: cause emotional and intellectual suffering that drives to desperate actions

what is in view here is Church, not individual believers – appears the Church has been defeated; may be true for individuals… but there is hope

their resurrection (11-12)

very soon after work of church is ended, hear that call from heaven – come to life, souls reunited with bodies, or bodies reconstituted “on the fly”

nothing hidden or secret about this either – everyone hears, everyone sees, everyone knows God is doing something big

when God calls his witness out of the world, that’s it… all done… nothing left but final judgment when all acknowledge “God wins!”

side note: not a very strong case here for postmillennial view, the concept that this era ends with some sort of Golden Age of the Gospel w/peace on earth for extended period of time

oops (13)

too late for repentance, giving glory to God now only grudging because its required – shows no real change of heart – impossible with witness removed from world

“every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord” – because obliged to, not out of love and desire

C. the third woe v.14

coming quickly – the end is near, 2000 years nearer now than when Revelation was written… means we must be busy

Phil. 2:14-15Do all things without grumbling or questioning,that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

Quote by Rev. George McCloud (a Scotsman): “I argue that the cross be raised again at the center of the marketplace as well as at the steeple of the church. Jesus was not crucified on a table between two candles but on a cross between two thieves, on a town garbage heap, at a crossroad of politics so cosmopolitan that they had to write his title in Hebrew and Latin and Greek, and at the kind of place where cynics talked smut [indecently] and thieves cursed and soldiers gambled. That is where he died and that is what he died about and that is what Christ’s followers ought to be about.”

iow, need to take up our cross… and not lay it back down – Christ-follower should be recognizable as such at all times in all places w/o exception

must be discerning witnesses

in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

compare Facebook and real life; bloopers when mic was “off”; things you hear from other room – most everyone (including self) wears mask of civility (some don’t bother wtih mask!)

need to see behind mask, recognize true problem, declare God’s solution to the issue – not that person needs to change their life, stop being stupid, try harder to do right

Human beings live actively accountable to the true God who knows and weighs us. Life has to do with God. We are intimately and thoroughly worshipers, lovers, fearers, trusters, believers, obeyers, refugees, hopers, seekers, desirers of something or other. This is not a general background truth but a specific foreground truth, playing out in every motion of the soul. The human heart and the intricate multitude of responses — behavior, emotion, cognition, memory, anticipation, attitude, and so on — are ruled. We heed either the true God, Savior, and Lord, or a host of identifiable lies, lusts, idols, voices, and pretenders. Human beings are thus fundamentally “depraved”: morally bent, dark, insane, and unholy vis-a-vis the God who made, sustains, sees, and evaluates us. He must personally intervene to straighten, enlighten, make sane, and sanctify.” Powlison

do need to repent of sin, turn to Christ in faith, do what he says, depend on him for strength and ability – everyone without exception is somewhere on that spectrum

must be credible witnesses for Gospel in dark world

“in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world

focus on how we live – shine – not as much on what we say; consider current political situation, strong temptation to think: your lips are moving, you must be lying

should not be that way for Christian – daily life, choices, priorities should bear clear testimony that you practice what you say

truth is: your life, apart from what you say, shows clearly who or what rules your heart and responses – does life match words?

if Christ is first, what keeps you away from prayer and Bible study? gathering with fellow-believers for worship? corporate prayer?

God expects his people to be credible witnesses, Christ expects his church to be a credible witness of his truth. It is his truth and that alone that sets people free from bondage to sin and self and Satan. We, the people of God must know God’s truth, love God’s truth, live God’s truth, declare God’s truth as faithful and credible witnesses.

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